Responding to public
and Congressional concerns that the IRS had become unnecessarily
abusive, the full committee for the first time in its history
decided to launch a formal oversight investigation of the agency's
dealing with the public. During a series of heavily covered hearings,
witnesses -- some of them IRS employees -- testified about specific
situations where they contended the agency had acted improperly.
On April 29, 1997, Susan B. Long and David Burnham, TRAC's Co-directors,
testified on a different but directly related subject. TRAC's
research had discovered that the agency's official criminal enforcement
counts were inaccurate and misleading. In their testimony, Long
and Burnham contended that the inability of the agency to accurately
track the activities of its Criminal Investigation Division was
a serious flaw because it meant that real accountability was impossible.
"The United States pays a lot of lip service to our system of
checks and balance, to the theory that we are a government of
laws and not whimsical bureaucrats," TRAC said. "But unless powerful
government agencies like the IRS are accurately and carefully
monitored, our celebrated checks and balances are a sham."